Thank you so much. This has been very informative.
I have a few more questions.
We have been talking and I believe we will be getting married in Ontario, Canada. She plans to come over this summer either on a temporary tourist visa, or on a student visa for going to school. And if she has the student visa, it would give her the ability to work. She is going to have to work, so this is what I'm trying to figure out.
There is a process for applying for a work permit, does she have to do that outside Canada, and have to have a job lined up for herself? What if she does not? She has never been to Canada before except once with me for Christmas. And what if she is on a student visa and has that ability to work? Can we still apply for the spousal visa and I can prove sponsorship, but she can still work under the student visa??
We then plan to get married by the end of August, and then apply for a spousal visa.
Because we will be inside Canada, why does this extend the process of Permanent Residency?
Her being in Canada with a temporary work permit or a study permit does not preclude you from sponsoring her for permanent status. They are two different things. A US citizen can come to Canada as a visitor, and once admitted is allowed to remain for up to six months. Visitors cannot work and cannot attend school, but with a spousal PR ap in process, she would be approved to extend her stay so she could remain with you in Canada while waiting for her PR to be finalized.
Getting a work or study permit is not that
easy - being married to you will not give her an advantage either. Getting a temporary work permit involves finding an employer who wants to hire her, who can also get what's called a "Positive Labour Market Opinion" which is awarded when the employer can demonstrate that there are no qualified Canadian applicants for the position they want to hire your wife for. If the employer gets the positive LMO, they can offer your wife the position and then she takes the job offer and applies to Immigration Canada for a work permit through the embassy in Buffalo. I don't have much info on how to get a university level study permit, but it involves proving sufficient funds, etc. The point being that both options will probably eat up about as much time as the spousal PR application process. If she absolutely has to work in order for the two of you to get by, it's probably the better option to get legally married in the States and both of you remain there (if at all possible) while waiting for her PR application to be processed. Once she's approved for permanent status (which could take up to a year), she can move to Canada and will be eligible for employment and healthcare. As has been mentioned, as a Canadian citizen, you're eligible to apply to sponsor her even while you are living abroad. You will have to submit evidence with the application of your intention to resettle in Canada in order for her to be approved. This is because they don't want sponsors just sending their family members to Canada - sponsors sign an undertaking to provide support for their sponsored family members for a specific period of time (3 years for spouses) so that those family members will not have to apply for social assistance.
It's not being "inside Canada" that extends the process of Permanent Residence - it's if you use the inland application process to apply for PR, mistakenly believing you have to just because you want the applicant to be in Canada while waiting for processing. Nobody ever has to apply via the inland process - there are situations where it's advantageous to an applicant, but your case would not be one of those situations. It's usually not recommended for a US citizen applicant to use the inland process for several reasons that I'll not get into here. Just basically, for a US citizen applicant, it takes longer just to get to the first stage of approval of an inland application than it does to get finalized for PR via the outland application process. The "big sell" for inland is the work permit option - and being that you're concerned with your future wife being able to work, you might think that inland would be the way to go. It's true that the inland process has a work permit option - but only
after the first stage of assessment is complete . . . and that first stage of assessment takes as long inland as it takes to finalize an outland US applicant. So there is no advantage to the inland process for a US citizen. In fact, applying inland means your wife would have to stay in Canada for the duration of processing - up to 18 months - and she would not have the option of working, going to school or having healthcare apart from having a restricted permit like has already been discussed. With that type of temporary status in place, and the ability to run an outland PR application concurrently, even while in Canada, there would be no advantage to using the inland process. In addition, if you apply to sponsor a partner with the inland process, you lose your right to appeal a refusal.
Concerning refusals: it's important to be aware that an applicant who has ever had any arrest/conviction for any reason since turning 18 years of age will likely be found inadmissible to Canada and refused PR. In that case, there's a whole different process that must be undertaken to get the applicant "rehabilitated status" first, before applying for PR. Criminal inadmissibility is about the only thing that will keep a "genuine" spousal/common-law partner from being approved for PR. You do have to prove that your relationship is "genuine" - not entered into for purposes of getting her status in Canada - but other than that, if she has a clean record, even a medical issue will not usually prevent approval.
Another point: you don't mention whether you have been living together in the States. If you have cohabitated for a period of at least one year, and you can prove that with copies of lease agreements, etc., you can sponsor her as your common-law partner - which means you could start the application process as soon as you have the one year cohabitation qualification. If not, you're not able to start the process until you're legally married, and then it's about a year before it's finalized and she's a PR.
In terms of maintaining PR and getting citizenship: I want to reiterate what was mentioned earlier - that for spouses and partners there is an exception to the 730 days of each 5 year period residency requirement mentioned earlier for maintaining permanent status. If a permanent resident remains in relationship with their sponsoring spouse, and lives with that spouse in another country, they still maintain their Canadian permanent residence. So - let's say you sponsor your new wife as a permanent resident, and then later you decide to move back to the States together. Even if you never came back to Canada again, she would keep her permanent status as long as she was living with you. If the two of you separated, or you died, she would then have to meet the residency requirement in order to keep her permanent status, which would involve moving back to Canada and living here for 730 days of each 5 year period. In terms of citizenship: only time spent residing in Canada counts towards qualifying a permanent resident for citizenship. A permanent resident has to have 3 years residence in Canada (at least 2 of those have to be after becoming a PR, one can be as a documented temporary resident before becoming a PR) in order to qualify to apply for citizenship. US citizens can have dual US/Canada citizenship. If your wife eventually becomes a citizen, she would no longer have to meet any residency requirements in Canada to maintain her status - regardless of her relationship with you.
Spend some time browsing the US2Canada
website for more information specific to sponsoring a US citizen spouse.